The One-Question Interview: Jason Polka, CEO and founder of Modernize

Posted May 5th, 2016

Jason Polka started Modernize, an online marketing company focused on the home improvement industry, about ten years ago in  Oakland, Calif.

After an investment from Jim Waltrip, who at the time was running Austin-based All Web Leads and is now Modernize's Chief Technology Officer, Polka began spending a lot of time in Austin. 

Why did you want to move your offices to Austin?

"I had a daughter at that time who was probably around 2 and my wife was pregnant with our son. I was commuting back and forth between Austin and Oakland.  We would get a home rental out here for a week or two at a time.  We rented homes all over Austin - Hyde Park, Allandale. My wife fell in love with it. She wanted to raise a family here.

There’s not a sense of community in the Bay Area. Out here it’s just a great environment for that. There is a lot of really good talent compared to the Bay Area as well. To find somebody who will take under six figures in the Bay Area was really hard. And even the ones you did get wanted six figures to show up to work. 

It's super expensive to live there. Within 15 miles of San Francisco you have to get paid a certain amount just to exist. There’ s a sense of entitlement in the Bay Area that doesn’t exist here. People were eager to work and had realistic salaries in mind. The work ethic is also a lot stronger. In Austin, people work. 

So we rebuilt the company out here from the ground up."

This interview was edited for length and clarity.